36-year-old IAF pilot Abhinandan was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat, a day after the air-strikes on terror camps at Balakot deep inside the neighbouring country.
Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa: "We have got two things in common -- both of us ejected (laughs); second, we both fought Pakistan. I fought during the Kargil war and Abhinandhan after the Balakot airstrike."
Wing Commander Muhammad Nouman Ali, who downed an Indian Air Force jet piloted by Abhinandan Varthaman on February 27, will be conferred with Sitar-e-Jurat while Squadron Leader Hassan Mahmood Siddiqui will be awarded with Tamgha-e-Shujaat.
Of the 180 gallantry awards announced by the government for Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) on the eve of Independence Day, 114 have gone to personnel deployed in the Kashmir Valley. Among state forces, J&K Police top the list with 62 medals.
The 51 Squadron patch depicts a MIG-21 BISON in the foreground and a red coloured F-16 in the background under crosshairs. The other squadron's patch shows a SU-30MKI with a AMRAAM missile going past it after missing to hit it.
Abhinandan is heard saying that all photographs being taken of him are for the families of the jawans who prayed for his well being. This is the first video of the MIG-21 pilot to appear after his re-joining active duty.
Days before his retirement from the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa Monday undertook his last fighter sortie on a MiG-21 aircraft with Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at the Pathankot airbase in Punjab.
IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to Indian officials at the Wagah border in Punjab. Abhinandan's parents — his father, an IAF veteran — had traveled to Amritsar from Chennai this morning to receive him on arrival